Very early Wednesday morning, I began to receive calls from my friends and colleagues in journalism and politics. The number of calls was unusual. It was far more than I was used to in such hours in the last two years. And guess what, the crux of the discussion was the same, the sacking of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from the exalted office of the governor of Imo State. As a journalist and one who maintains a column in a widely read national newspaper I was expecting the reactions I got and the reason was simple: governorship electoral conflicts slated for a day before, to be decided by the Supreme Court were high profile and strategic cases with potentials to positively or negatively affect the prospects of the two leading political parties between now and 2023. The pre-verdict atmosphere and activities were also enough indication that the cases slated at the Supreme Court last Monday but which had to be shifted to Tuesday on account of ill health of one of the panelists, Justice Okoro were no ordinary cases.
There was the case of Governor Emeka Ihedioha. Ihedioha was a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, under the speakership of Aminu Tambuwal, now governor of Sokoto State. Recall that Tambuwal moved from the All Progressives Congress (APC), the current ruling party at the centre to PDP and only just recently, he visited his friend, Ihedioha, in Owerri Imo State. Those in politics know such visits are not just ordinary and when you add that to the fact that Ihedioha was, and I think still is, the boy of former Vice President and PDP’s Presidential candidate in 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, then the picture of the intrigues begins to get clearer. So from day one after the 2019 election, Ihedioha was on the spot. He was a marked man and that explains why the Imo gubernatorial matter became such a hotly contested matter and also an issue of wide public interest. I will talk on the aspect of religious charlatanism later.
Recall also that Tambuwal shortly after he jumped from APC to PDP put himself forward for the presidential election; he ran a credible race in the PDP presidential primaries in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State. His backers are strong men in PDP and national politics; they have strong voices and money, and are among those pushing for the young generation to take over power especially at the national level. One of such men is Nyesom Wike, who just won re-election for second tenure in Rivers State. Those pushing for better fortunes for APC know these men, they know the political dance of Ihedioha and Tambuwal and in their political plots they chose to tie the fate of Ihedioha and Tambuwal together. Verdict on election petitions from Sokoto and Imo were to be heard on Monday, before the sitting was shifted to Tuesday and then in a curious twist the plotters decided to take Imo only on Tuesday and reschedule Sokoto and Kano for Monday 20th of January. Anybody vast in our country’s political culture would then have known that a political tsunami was in the air and that it was not about Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka’s religious standing and clairvoyance but more about sinister plots and its often nasty consequences.
I will be very surprised if Tambuwal does not receive the Ihedioha treatment tomorrow. The verdict in Imo is simply put sacrilegious and like I have said earlier any keen observer would have seen it coming. That the people in PDP hierarchy couldn’t see that they would be in for surprises at the later stages of electoral contestations is one of the reasons some of those key leaders should resign or be compelled to vacate office with immediate effect. My call is not predicated on partisan interest, hatred for a particular party or group, it is a call motivated by the desire for sound democratic growth and sustenance. In a pure democratic setting, opposition is a strong anchor; positive and well directed opposition reins in reason, and places a check on political players especially those in public office. Vibrant opposition propels political players to do the right things and at the right time; main opposition parties are better placed to lead the rest of the parties and the people to work to install finer democratic ideas. PDP under Uche Secondus has not lived up to this billing especially in the face of glaring attempts to assault and disfigure key democratic institutions. PDP’s abdication of role and responsibilities is becoming too costly for the country. Anti-democratic agents are having a field day. They are brazenly expanding their space and in all of it the people don’t count.
I took time to read the Tribunal and Appeal Court verdicts on the Imo State governorship tussle and one cardinal basis on which they threw away all the petitions including that of Hope Uzodinma of APC declared winner by the Supreme Court from a fourth position was that most of the evidences adduced were not based on documents produced by witnesses and that most of them testified on the basis of hearsay. On that account they gave no weight to the contention of Uzodinma that some votes in some units were not counted. It was specifically said that INEC should have helped him to canvas the position but INEC didn’t. So the question is what changed at the Supreme Court to the extent that the Supreme Court opted to assume the role of voters and the electoral umpire at the same time resurrecting dead votes, recounting and allocating. It was a dirty gamble and that is confirmed by the going forth and back that characterized the sitting over this appeal. A friend once told me that one thing wrong about subversion and fraud is that the process never synchronizes, that there would always be a missing link. Friends have sent me a data showing that after the Supreme Court allocations, there are discrepancies in terms of total accredited voters and valid votes cast at that election. I hope this is not true.
Many of us in recent past have read the Supreme Court scold courts about entering into the arena of electoral disputes. We have heard them clearly say only the people have a right to vote in persons into power. If this principle was followed in the Imo verdict, the best outcome would have been to order a rerun of elections in those contested 388 polling units said to be in Uzodinma’s political base. The refusal to accept those results was based on process and we all know what that means. So, what would have been the most justice-able in this circumstance should have been to ask INEC to go back and do a thorough job and by so doing allow the people to have a hold on the process. This didn’t suite the calculation, so Imo has a governor imposed by external forces. This is not democracy. Those pushing such buttons should be careful not to push the people into temptation.